Here's the First Look at Thunder Ridge

417 gets a behind-the-scenes look at Thunder Ridge—here are the insider tips you need to know.

by Alex Osredker

May 24 2024 at 3 p.m.

Party Barn at Thunder Ridge
Photo by Mariya SerykhHere's a look at the Party Barn (plus more below) at Thunder Ridge Nature Arena.

If you’ve ever experienced something by Johnny Morris and his team (i.e. Wonders of Wildlife, Dogwood Canyon or Big Cedar), you know that hospitality and attention to detail are top priorities—and Thunder Ridge Nature Arena is no exception. 417 Magazine was invited to tour Thunder Ridge prior to its official opening on May 25. We sat down with members of the Thunder Ridge team to discuss the vision behind the arena, the innovations made to the property and the lineup for 2024 and 2025—and learn tips and tricks so attendees get the most out of their experience.

With a capacity of 20,000, Thunder Ridge Nature Arena offers a variety of concert experiences, including seating on the floor and the hill, as well as personal boxes and private suites, which provide access to reserved tables and lounges, underground tunnels to get to the hill and more.

Arich Berghammer, Senior Vice President of Revenue and Growth for Stadiums, Arenas and Theatres at ASM Global, describes the heart of Thunder Ridge. “Everything has what we call conceptual integrity,” says Berghammer. “It looks like the Ozarks, it feels like the Ozarks, it smells [like it], all of it. It’s just got a whole kind of ethos that… is very unique and one of a kind.”

Thunder Ridge’s focus is on creating an elevated experience, rather than just hosting an event! Guests will see this in a number of ways:

1. The food is the high-quality visitors have come to expect at Johnny Morris properties, including authentic delights like bison brats, elk and venison on charcuterie boards and signature cookies that are stuffed with various fillings, like peanut butter and raspberry. Attendees can purchase snacks at one of the eight “markets” around the property—think of an upscale store rather than the traditional concession stand.

2. Everything on the property is carefully curated, and significant effort has been made towards conservation while building, including the Party Barn, which is constructed of 200-year-old repurposed timbers.

3. Tickets for the Premium Experience allow guests to take their stay to the next level with a private suite, exclusive lounge and more. The suites are available to rent (including on concert nights). They sit up and behind the floor and hill, which means that you can view the concert from your private suite, kicked back in bed or sitting around your personal fire pit. (Pro tip: ask for a make-your-own-s’mores kit to complete the experience.) Venture down to the private lounge for some tasty food and drinks, and then take one of the underground tunnels to the main part of the arena. The suite also includes a kitchen, seating area and a Murphy Bed, so you can hit the hay right after the concert and avoid the drive home.

4. If you’re looking for something in between the hill and the private suite, boxes are also available, which seat up to four people. They’re set up above the hill and below the suites—and they have their own ice chest and waitstaff. Both the personal boxes and private suites offer a great view of the stage, sunsets and a holistic luxury experience.

5. The Thunder Ridge team sends out a “Know Before You Go” email to answer FAQ’s and ensure attendees have the most up-to-date information, so make sure to check your inbox! If you’re not the one who purchased the tickets, don’t fret. You can also view the know-before-you-go info here on their website, and make sure to follow them on social as well.

Outdoor area at Thunder Ridge
Photos by Mariya SerykhThe private boxes (front) and the private suites (behind), located in front of the Party Barn
Interior at Thunder Ridge
Photos by Mariya SerykhOne of the private lounges, included in the premium experience.
Interior view at Thunder Ridge
Photos by Mariya SerykhThe view from the personal firepit off of the private suite.
Market areas at Thunder Ridge
Photos by Mariya SerykhThree of the markets located throughout the venue where attendees can peruse different food and drinks.
Thunder Ridge exterior construction
Photos by Mariya SerykhThe stage at Thunder Ridge Nature Arena.

The lineup for 2024 is already stacked, but the team has a few more surprises up their sleeve. For 2024, Thunder Ridge has secured Morgan Wallen, Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan, the Rolling Stones, Pitbull and Imagine Dragons… but we got a little inside scoop that they may be announcing a couple others before 2024 wraps up. The lineup for 2025 is shaping up to be even bigger than 2024, with boat fairs, equestrian events and more in addition to concerts.

The views are breathtaking, the attention to detail is incredible and the team is so welcoming and hospitable. We can’t wait for Thunder Ridge to officially open so 417-landers can see the arena for themselves.